Thursday, June 22, 2006

Prozac Nation - A marginal movie review with honest questions raised

I do describe a few scenes from the movie. If you have not seen the movie, you might not want to read further. However, because this is a marginal review I am not giving away much. The movie is not about the ending per say but that reality that it portrays. That said, I hope some find this helpful.

Prozac Nation
Based of the book written by Elizabeth Wurtzel

As often is the case with independent films, there are two results. First, no obvious point is made, thus leaving the viewer to draw from the subtleties, which might have some meaning or importance. Second, so loud is the point that it can’t help but be noticed and acted upon. Thus, this movie review arises out of the later.

A masterful performance by Christina Ricci, Prozac Nation commands notice. The viewer is drawn to the reality of depression through Ricci’s interaction with her mom, dad, friends, and persistent changes of life in general. The movie is narrated from Ricci’s perspective as the depressed but what is interesting is her seemingly dual personality. As the depression takes control in various situations she is almost living out a double reality. One is real. The other is in her mind, the way she wants it to be.

Gradually and then suddenly one enters into what has been classified as clinical depression, but in the same way can redemption occur. Ricci’s mom is guilty of living vicariously through her daughter, attempting to hide her own depression and inadequacies of a failed marriage and unproductive life. As she becomes poorer and poorer due to the costs of therapy so becomes her own journey of redemption with her daughter, though not with her own mom. Her Mom mugged, Ricci learns she is avoiding pain medicine. The realities of a different time begin to set in. In one scene along the way, Ricci’s mom allows herself to let go of the situation and simply tell her daughter goodbye. Goodbye in the conversation and yet also, it would seem, to the way things have been going. She is not going to give her the advice that she wished she had. She is simply saying good-bye to the way things had been.

In another scene, Dr. Sterling, Ricci’s nurse (played by Anne Hesche) walks in on Ricci in the bathroom where is holding a piece of broken glass to her wrist, shaking and battling the decision to cut. Silent, Hesche watches. At a moment, her own young daughter walks in which she picks her up and holds her telling her its okay. In that moment the gradual return from depression makes a sudden move towards redemption. Broken, crying, and bleeding, Ricci lives vicariously in that one moment, receiving the care and love that she lacked.

I cannot pretend to understand the in’s and out’s of clinical depression nor the pro’s and con’s of Prozac as a drug. It seems that Wurtzel, on the one hands is saying that drugs can provide breathing room and on the other hand, to what extent is the reality of a drug-numbed life beneficial. After all, when Hesche walks in on Ricci about to cut her wrist, the viewer is led to believe that her depression has been controlled. The controversy in the previous scene is whether or not she wants to continue in a drug-numbed life. I can say with confidence that in a nation where so many people are clinically depressed one has to question the continuance of the institutions and methods of which people are formed. United, a nation might stand, but autonomous, all will fall individually and lonely.

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